BJP endorses Rajnath as next chief

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 23, 2013 11:14 hrs

All set to become the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the second time, Rajnath Singh on Wednesday morning met party veteran LK Advani, before heading to the BJP headquarters, where he attended a party parliamentary board meeting which endorsed his name as the next chief of the organisation.

He will file his nomination papers Wednesday and will be elected uncontested to take over from Nitin Gadkari who chose not to run for a second consecutive term in view of the business malpractices charges against him.

BJP leader Ananth Kumar said at the parliamentary board meeting Gadkari´s dynamism, good work and open mindedness in increasing the party´s support base were acknowledged by party patriarch L K Advani.

Singh´s name came up for the post with Gadkari resigning late last night amid increasing grumblings against his second term, and after the BJP battled hints of rifts within, announcing the way for former chief Rajnath Singh to rise to the top seat again.

Subject of an anti-graft investigation that has buoyed back into national headlines over the past few days, Gadkari said that he was stepping aside since there was no consensus on his name for the top post.

Even though BJP patriarch L K Advani was said to have been against Rajnath Singh being chosen for the top post, the 62-year-old emerged as the most widely supported leader late on Tuesday.

Top leaders right-wing Hindu nationalist party, including Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, held closed-door meetings with leaders from its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that reportedly backed Gadkari.

Earlier on Tuesday high drama was witnessed when names such as those of senior leader Yashwant Sinha and Sushma Swaraj was tossed in the air as the party scrambled to arrive at its traditional single-candidate consensus for the President election.

BJP leader Mahesh Jethmalani, who had earlier threatened to challenge Gadkari for the post of the party chief, on Tuesday said he has been denied nomination by the party to contest against the party president.

However it was much due to the clout of the Delhi-leadership of the BJP that Rajnath Singh made it as the frontrunner for the post.

However, announcing his decision to not stand for a reelection after months of speculation that he would get a second term, Gadkari reportedly said that he did not want the ongoing anti-graft probe to hamper the party´s image.

"I do not wish that this should in any way adversely affect the interest of the BJP," Gadkari, whose is under the scanner for the dubious funding of conglomerate Purti Group, said.

"I have, therefore, decided not to seek a second term as the president of the BJP," the 55-year-old leader, who took over the party´s reins in December 2009, said in a statement.

"I have committed no wrong or any impropriety either directly or indirectly. I shall continue to serve my party as a committed worker. I have conveyed my decision to my colleagues," he added.

On Tuesday income tax officials visited eight locations in Mumbai linked to 24 different firms that invested in or did business with the Purti Group even as Gadkari maintained that the allegations of wrongdoing against him were fabricated.

Legal luminary and leader Ram Jethmalani, his son Mahesh Jethmalani and a host of other leaders had openly slammed his possibility of re-election and had demanded that Gadkari must step down as the president of the outfit till a probe into the corruption charges against him cleared him.

More from Sify: